Monday, December 17, 2012

Planet of the Apes, Friday, December 14, 2012

"...Oh my sister, oh this dark march toward whatever it is we are approaching, don't, 

don't, don't hang back with the apes." I think that's what Tennessee Williams pleaded to the 

American people through his character Blanche, who was loved by him, completely 

misunderstood by most. Somehow, perhaps somewhat paraphrased, the admonishment to her 

sister by Ms. Dubois comes to mind from the monologue I performed in a college drama class, 

by a playwright most beloved by me, Tennessee Williams.

Was 'apes' the word used by Blanche? I think it was, but I may have it mixed up because of my 

rambling ongoing conversation with my friend. Again the subject of the great classic American 

film comes up, Planet of the Apes. And as I tell my friend that we are living in the planet of the 

apes, 350 million guns already in the hands of the people,  while continuing gun business 

thrives as our government asleep at the wheel drives us off their demented dream of a fiscal 


My friend wonders yet again, and I love my friend for his repetition because of truth always 

inherent in it..." Did Charlton Heston even know what Planet of the Apes was about?" I 

answer, no, many fine actors haven't a clue. Many do not even read the entire script ahead of 

time. It is one of many reasons why the director is  more important to the making of great or 

good film, because more responsible for the end result than any of the other components of 

the collaboration that filmmaking is, even the writer, more responsible by far for greatness of 

film result than the actor.

So no, we had to wait until his life had passed before we could wrest the gun from the cold 

dead arms of Charlton Heston. The man was wrong, we were able to do it, as he was wrong 

about many things.

I am going to make some chamomile tea, and see if I can go back to sleep as I consider that 

totalitarian regime is the people in my country, that life here in the U.S. is a game of Russian 

Roulette for even the most vulnerable, the most innocent. It is a cruel game imposed by who? 

Any among us, as any among us are potential victims. All of us as we walk, talk, move, and 

even try to sit still, remain stationary while trying to learn in a classroom of first graders. 

Or even those who like my teacher in first grade, Mrs. Martone, who called her little charges "Dear Heart," 

 and allowed each in turn to be honored weekly as "Personality of the Week."

All together now, just before Christmas...


Sunday, December 16, 2012


I love my amygdala

admire from the distance

amygdala tells me,

and I listen.


Almond-shaped set of neurons

you reside deep in my brain’s

medial temporal lobe.

location, location, location


You play a key role

unlock the door of my emotions, but


from angry boys.

you form part of my limbic system;

collective name for structures in 

the human brain involving



emotional association with memory.

Both fear and pleasure responses

are linked in you,

across species, your size

correlates with aggressive behavior.


You shrink in males that have been castrated,

by more than 30%.

Interesting fact, but I speak

to you who are in me

You, in me do not always function as you should,

you that I don’t fault you for that,

for I know

it is not your choice

that pleasure and pain

often cannot even know 

within you,

which is which,

one dissolves easily 

(in emotional moments)

into the other, 


one would laughingly say

there is a groping in the dark,

a blindness, an inability to understand

at times



Sometimes that which appears to you quartz clear

diamond bright

Amethyst hued

or carnelian,

may be,

or maybe not be,

may be

murky black but glinting like obsidian,

while all the while beckoning mica 

fools you,

when gold is real.

Problem is

fear of serpentine asbestos chrysotile

with its fibrous crystals

has made its harsh toxicity known,

so in your malfunctioning self you


mix it up:

the pleasure and the pain

a frightening witches brew



hideous beauty bitter sweet ugly

comforting and alienating


the dancing revolution 

pleasure and pain.


I love you,

and I know that 

love is what you need.

the closest one to you

I am here to ease 

transitions, transformations

endless shape-shifting trickster


who will never be conquered, quelled, comforted 




still, be still,

I am here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Censorship of Art at Facebook Must Not Be Tolerated

     A disturbing trend is coming to my attention all too frequently of late on facebook. Several of my most talented artist friends are reporting that facebook is allowing its users to report art, and that facebook is responding to these reports by taking down the art. While I realize that I have little or no power to affect and influence facebook in their inane decision to allow this, nevertheless I state boldly that I will not stand by and say nothing. I will not allow this ludicrous practice on parts of both users of facebook, and facebook itself to continue without protest. In that spirit I post what might be my most offensive art at this blog entry, which I will post on facebook. Keep in mind I don't really know which among my works are offensive. I do not set out to make offensive art. Offensive is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder often has an offensive agenda, jealousy is often what is behind any kind of offense.

     There is one here I shocked myself with when I painted it, Adam and Eve at Palisades Park Cliff Above the Pacific Ocean. The two of them have just partaken of massive amounts of fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they have been cast out of the Garden of Eden. They are thinking seriously of committing suicide, their spirits can be seen ghost-like tumbling over the edge of the cliff.
      How I offended myself at the time I painted it, and since when I see photos of it online (including here) was by using garish Disney colors,  and an almost cartoony inyerface style, telling story without benefit of intermediary masking techniques, which are usual for me, and too numerous to expound on here.
      Ambivalent as I am about this painting, people have enjoyed it, remembered it, discussed it, and finally purchased it.

     I post this entry in celebration of Independence Day in the United States. I seek liberation from the petty and mundane forces which seek to mediocritize us all. No to censorship of any art, anywhere!

     The situation is childish, not suited to a society interested in what is best and brightest among its citizenry, namely those practitioners of all of the the arts. We all need to find ways to protest that people seek to undermine artists, and that facebook allows it.

     I have read at the blogs of others that facebook allows the most repugnant vile hate groups to post what they like on pages about subjects which for the purposes of this entry I deem unsuitable for me to address.

     This posting is against censorship. In protest I upload some of my own most offensive images and will post this entry to facebook, along with a call to arms. Blog about this subject. Write to facebook. Post offensive photos from among your artworks. Write about the subject at your status report. Write about it in notes. Call upon others to also protest. We should put our "friends" and facebook on notice that the situation is not one that is in any way tolerable to us.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guest blogger Teresa LeYung Ryan, Author of Love Made of Heart

Teresa LeYung Ryan asked me to paint her story from her memoir/novel Love Made of Heart in a bookcase for her a few years ago. I did, so when I made my film Art and Gift, a voyage begins, I included her story and her photo in front of her bookcase, as well as her words regarding her request in the film, about giving away my art.  I asked her what she thought of the film, and she answered with a poem and a blog entry, presented here:

January 1, 2012
Chandra Garsson asked me today: “Teresa, what did you really think about my film?”
As I was telling her, she said “Could you say it in your blog?”
So, here goes… It took Chandra 9 months to create her documentary Art & Gift 2011.  9 months of work–being the film’s protagonist, camera person, director, producer, editor. What impressed me the most about this film is seeing Chandra’s generous nature on the big screen.  She could have been the sole narrator, presenting the conflict.  But, she did so much more.  She interviewed over a dozen fellow artists and writers to give us a chance to express ourselves.  She presents a story with fairness.  She listens to the other side; she even gives the other side the spotlight so that we can hear/see the other side without any filters. In the case of her film, the other side was the landlord.
During our conversation today, we talked about theme.  I was telling Chandra about just having finished editing a children’s novel and helping my client identify the themes in her story.  Chandra said  there is theme in her work too.  Yes, in deed.
The first time I experienced her art was when the fabulous Kim McMillon orchestrated authors’ readings during the5-week long exhibition of  Chandra’s Insomnia [Awakening] at Pro Arts in Oakland. I still remember what poet Mark G said about Chandra’s big pieces (Chandra had painted stories on doors).  “She understands trauma. I’m a vet.” That’s my recollection of what Mark said that day.
The plastic baby dolls in Chandra’s exhibit hooked my attention.  She understands broken child-within, I thought.
We’ve been friends since.
Please take a look at Chandra’s  film Art & Gift 2011!  I’m proud of my friend and her powerful work. I’m honored to be in the documentary with Lucille Lang Day, Mary Rudge, Pedro, and all the other artists/poets/musicians/writers who were invited to speak to Chandra Garsson’s camera.

December 24, 2011
My praise on Chandra Garsson’s latest film Art & Gift 2011
birds’ songs
dog’s barking
haunting music
You understand sorrow.
eviction.  Your losing your work space–to paint, to create, to sculpt, to work
from 2,400 square feet of artist’s space to 400
Your Insomnia [Awakening]
trusting Chandra Garsson to paint my dolls my ego my childhood symbolism onto Love Made of Heartbookcase
Your growth, blossoming, working with your hands, with colors, sounds, shapes.
Your masterpieces:  art-making; book-making; jewelry-making; film-making

Teresa LeYung-Ryan, author of Love Made of Heart
Chandra Garsson says of her film:  “Documents the gift of a lifetime of art-making after eviction from art studio. Interviews with recipients of art, including landlord. My goal was to save art from the dump, and I succeeded.

        I am laughing in joy, Teresa, to read your praise. Thank you! Yes, it is true, after you presented me with the poem you had written in your blog about Art and Gift, I did suggest a more conventional essay approach to blogging. The poem sparked genuine interest in finding out what you were actually saying about my film, hence my suggestion of a more formal approach.
     I present here an introductory six-minute short film by way of paratext, or as I say within the film ‘paratextural’ information on the film, a play on ‘paratextual’ emphasising the textural qualities of the surfaces of most of my art: Paul Digby on Art and Gift, a Voyage Begins
      Believe it or not, I dove back in to create a second version very similar yet different from the feature experimental documentary Art and Gift, this called Art and Gift, a Voyage Begins: Art and Gift, a Voyage Begins
       And believe it or not I am still far from satisfied, as there are some technical flaws resulting from sound problems that could not be avoided, given my lack of experience making films, given the film software I worked with, given compression inevitable in the upload. Still and all, I am satisfied. I documented the gift of nearly all my art work, and I was able to realize my goal, that of saving my work from ultimate destruction brought on by the vagaries of the state of commercial real estate in the state of California, and eviction. Frankly, I was done, I wanted freedom from what had become for me an ongoing untenable situation.

Photos show bookcase Teresa commissioned me to paint her story on. Photo of me taking photo taken by Teresa.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Art and Gift Part Three, Part two, A Voyage Begins

     I wrote last about the publication of my latest film in the making, Art and Gift. I remade that, and the result is somewhat different in sound, some added clips and images, more than that, the overall feel is in another realm not quite altogether, but there you simply must have it. My hope is that you will watch the new version, Art and Gift, A Voyage Begins, and that you might let me know what your thoughts are, either here or where it is posted.

    The third and final film in a trilogy telling of the gift of all my artwork to those who valued the work, thereby rescuing the art from landfill following one eviction too many from art studios, due to owner's plans for development of the property. After my eviction by a  landlord from the Dutch Boy paint factory art studios, I was given a much smaller space by my friend of twenty years, a friend who had collected much of my art. In order to make that move to a much smaller studio, I had to sell a great deal of my work at prices far below market value at the time of that move, which was almost six years ago. The space my friend offered me she offered at a price well below market value. Now ensconced in the old Bank of America building, my friend sadly died. Her son inherited, he "had other plans for the building," so once again I had to move. He kept the rent the same low amount I had paid his mother until the time of my move. He offered me another space in another building about 1/4 the size of the smaller space I had squeezed into after eviction from the Dutch Boy. With enough space for my work, the rent would have gone sky high, well beyond what I could have paid. Just finding space large enough would have been a dicey situation, one that I had explored to no avail, especially given that neither commercial nor residential rents have come down in my area, despite the near depression economy.
It is difficult to say in a situation like mine whether the tragedy is the loss of studio/gallery/work/storage (all of that is what a studio is or can be to a visual artist), or whether the tragedy is the necessity of saving work from land-fill by giving it to others. It is both. The loss is of countless hours of grueling intellectual and physical work that goes into the making of any art---in my case countless paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and the objects that go into the personal collection of an artist, all grist for the mill, all muse, all props that hold the theater together.

Paul Digby, Vincent Andelmoth, Aki Sasaki and friends, and Danny Zingarelli and friends created hauntingly beautiful music which graciously they allowed me to use in my film.

The poetry of Lucille Lang Day rings true and clear throughout the film.

Poet Mary Rudge speaks eloquently at film's end of changes and passages, "Every time a person dies, a book is lost."

I gave it all up for free!

Note: There are at least two places in this film where the sound got away from me in transit (upload)---my great desire is that these two places will be heard as very avante guarde sound sculpture.